Jun 11, 2016

That's Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms by Danielle S McLaughlin, Dharmali Patel (Illustrations)

That's Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and FreedomsThat's Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms by Danielle S McLaughlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That's Not Fair by Danielle McLaughlin is a fun and educational read for children about how and why we have certain laws and certain freedoms in our country - U.S.A. This book will be a great way to introduce young people to democracy at a young age.

Via a fictional town and it's quirky characters, basics of our system / democracy, freedoms, and the process and need for certain laws are explained in a fun and easily understood way. The book has bright and exciting illustrations that represent the character's feelings and convey their feelings which bring about the need for laws, and why those laws (freedoms) exist to help make life as fair as possible for citizens. Each chapter ends with questions for the reader to consider to get the reader thinking about how the law helps, who still might not feel it is fair, or what the common good may be for the population.

The situations and characters are funny, teach valuable lessons, and explain why we have certain freedoms, how democracy works, as well as what it might be like if we did not have certain laws. I was glad to receive this book free for an honest review and enjoyed the way our process of making law is demonstrated for younger people in an easily understood and entertaining way. I love this book, the expressive illustrations, and the easy to understand way democracy is demonstrated for upper elementary or mid schoolers.

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This unique addition to the CitizenKid collection, written by by Danielle S. McLaughlin, provides an accessible exploration of the rights and freedoms of citizens in a democracy through a series of six short stories starring Mayor Moe and the councillors of a sometimes wacky city. In each story, the councillors are first presented with a problem, and the group then makes a decision to address the problem with a new law, only to discover later there were unintended consequences. There is one councillor, Bug, who objects to each decision being proposed by commenting, ?That's not fair!? --- a sentiment familiar to children, who have an innate sense of justice. The topics are child-friendly: Should you be allowed to search someone's bag because you think they have something of yours? Does it make sense to have a law that states people can say only nice things? Conclusions for each story include an extended discussion of the rights and freedoms featured in the story, along with three questions to ponder: Why did the councillors make their decision? Did the new law achieve its purpose? Were there any unexpected results? There are no right answers given. Instead children are encouraged to look at all sides of each issue, which engages their critical thinking skills and fosters empathy for other points of view. This book would be perfect for sparking spirited discussions on civics lessons and inspiring children to become involved citizens. The bright and humorous illustrations by Dharmali Patel keep the interest level high. A Note for Parents and Teachers and definitions of the rights and freedoms covered in each story are included at the end of the book.

May 12, 2016

EXPERT Interview on Andrew Joyce book Resolution ~ Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Lisa has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog Danny—Danny the Dog. He always has an attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States once co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny.

Andrew begged me to come along with him so that I could help him out. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about our latest adventure. We’re always having adventures. I like to write about them and what I write is 100% true.


Ahoy all you landlubbers, It’s me Danny the Dog. I live on a boat with my human who I’ve already alluded to. Now, I do know for a fact that mostly humans read The Empresses blog, but my writing is usually geared to my fellow canines. Having said that, I’ll tell what I’ve been up to the last couple of days.

Andrew, and I get along for the most part. And as far as roommates go, he’s not too bad. However, as most of my dog friends will attest to, humans can be trying at times. For instance, take the situation concerning our bed. Well, on boats they’re called bunks. Don’t ask me why, it’s just something a silly human made up a long time ago.

On boats, you don’t have a regular mattress. One sleeps on foam rubber and there lies the rub between Andrew and I. I’m sure all my canine friends know where I’m going with this. But for my human readers, I’ll explain. There are very few things more enticing then foam rubber to a dog. It’s like dog catnip, if that makes any sense.

Allow me to digress for a moment and set the scene for you. I like to sleep outside on the deck most nights—unless it’s raining. But I spend my days indoors in the air conditioning. So every morning after our walk, I go into the boat and jump up on the bed, or bunk if you will. Then I start to paw at the sheets until I uncover a corner and then I’ll rub my snoot on the foam. Man, does that feel good. Of course, Andrew freaks out, but what else can you expect from a human. He puts the sheets back in place and calls me a few choice names, but it’s worth it. And the funny thing is I only like to do it in the morning. The rest of the day, I get on and off the bed and don’t even think of that luscious foam rubber lying just under the sheets. Now on to bicycles, or to be more precise let’s talk about Andrew and the one and only time he took me along while he rode his bike.

Andrew is not much for physical exertion; in fact, he’s down right indolent. But this morning as he was getting ready to ride to the other side of the marina (I told you he was lazy), I started barking at him to take me along. Usually when I do that, he leaves the bike and we walk. However, this morning he took me by the leash and off we went, him on the bike and me trotting alongside.

Now I know why he was hesitant to take me with him when he’s on the bike. I crisscrossed in front of him many times and every time he had to put on the brakes so he wouldn’t run into me. And when I wasn’t doing that, I’d stop to smell an especially intoxication scent, almost pulling him off the bike. When we got home, he told me that was my last time accompanying him while he rode the bicycle. But that’s okay. It was just a training exercise; I caused him all that grief on purpose and he responded as I knew he would. I much prefer walking, I can take my time sniffing, and every once in a while I turn up a treasure, like an old chicken bone. Andrew won’t let me eat them, but I get a crunch or two in before he takes them away.

We just got back from visiting some friends on the far side of the marina—we walked. It pained Andrew to have to walk all of one hundred yards, but I had a blast. I found a rib bone and had most of it eaten before Andrew got it away from me.

That’s about it for now. I must hurry home. My favorite television show is about to start—old reruns of Lassie in black and white. They don’t make shows like that anymore.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot—go out and buy Andrew’s book and make an old man happy.

Resolution-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Lisa for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.



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Andrew’s Blog

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Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure


Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery REVIEW

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review by MooShine Art Spot:

The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! By Mike Lowery captured my interest and tempted my love doodling immediately. The book is for middle grade readers to actually draw themselves into the story. The prompts were an incredible way to get kids started on what to draw to put their own special creative thinking to work to make the story a part of themselves. This book would be great for kids that do not necessarily love to read because it literally brings them into the story and uses their input to complete the tale.I hope to see more books like this in the future. The book has a great plot and is a lot of fun. I received a free Ecopy to provide an honest opinion on and my only disappointment was that I could not open it in a program that would let me actually draw on it ! I am way older than middle school, but I wanted to draw ! Great engaging book I would recommend for all ages. I hope to see more like this from this author.

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Draw your way through the story!

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! is a lighthearted fantasy where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object. The book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! And by the end, the reader will have co-written a tale to return to again and again, and show off to family and friends

Apr 19, 2016

Raising Boys ~ Why Boys are Different and How to Help them Become Happy and Well Balanced Men by by Steve Biddulph

Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different--and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced MenRaising Boys: Why Boys Are Different--and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men by Steve Biddulph

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since becoming a parent of a boy, I read almost everything I can get my hands on to try to gain additional information and suggestions about things that might make his life better. I am one of those people who believe that you can learn from others, and other's good suggestions can come in handy. No one person can know anything of course so it is always good to at least consider things others have tried or have heard about. I appreciate that this book was not faith based because sometimes those books can be a little lacking in scientific facts and practical advice. I also appreciate books that can back up their opinions with research of some kind or even just the fact ... " this worked for me " or " this worked for my friend"... I am actually open to reasonable suggestions and can find value in many different approaches.

As a woman, I did find a little offensive some of the big, huge, constant suggestionS that the boy will not have a good life it he does not have a strong male taking him under his wing. I know boys do need a male influence, but I also know men who were raised by mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. who are wonderful and understanding men. YES they are still MEN. I am sure most of them might agree it would have been a benefit if a good male had been there, but sometimes the fact that the influence is a male does not mean the influence is a good influence on the child. Don't settle for a bad male just to have a male in the boy's life. That is sexist and is not going to lead the boy in the right direction in my opinion.

There was alot of information in this book that I did find helpful. Much of the information wasn't backed up with science or research, but then again much of the research you see can be manipulated to show whatever results researchers want it to show .... so again... common sense and suggestions based on what you have seen or heard can have merit.

This book had some good and some not so useful in my opinion. It was very readable and easy to understand. Overall I do not have a negative opinion of the book. Most books have some useful suggestions, and some will not be for everyone nor will it apply to every single situation.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review and I am glad I read it. I can see and agree that if the child has a strong bond with a good father figure it will benefit the boy. I can see and understand that sometimes boys need to be boys (within reason & not having to always BE TOUGH, nor bully others)... Boys also need to know when to tone it down and show some respect to others. The author had some good points in places, but a person needs to consider their own particular child and circumstances when considering the information.

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BOOK Description
A revised edition of the bestselling and practical guide to the issues parents face in raising sons--including sex, violence, homework, sports, the Internet, and more--and how to best aid boys' development from birth to manhood.

Raising a happy, loving, responsible boy in today's world can be challenging. In this third edition of his international best seller, Steve Biddulph looks at the most important issues in a boy's development from birth to manhood. With gentle humor and proven wisdom backed by decades as a family psychologist and father, he shows parents how to provide the firm, loving guidance that boys need. Updates include information on mitigating the dangerous effects of online pornography, male specific hearing problems, and teen driving on boys. Biddulph also discusses:
• The three stages of boyhood, and how to help them go smoothly.
• Testosterone! How it changes behavior and what to do about it.
• How boys' brain development differs from girls'.
• How to help boys cultivate a caring attitude toward sex.
• The impact of competitive sports on boys, and how to ensure it stays positive.
• Questions to assist in finding boy-friendly schools

The War of Words by Amy Neftzger ~ Review, author interview, giveaway,

The War of Words
by Amy Neftzger

Book Review, Author Interview, Giveaway !!!!

Giveaway details below

Win 1 of 5 print copies (USA) / 1 of 5 ebooks (international)
1 of 2 $25 Amazon gift cards (international) (12 winners)
12 prizes in all!

Book Description for The War of Words:

Sometimes there's no better way to understand reality than through fantasy, and the best way to find truth may be in a book - if you can find the right one.

Battles against darkness, a quest for truth, and a search for the book that no one can read are all part of the fantasy adventure in The War of Words. As an evil sorcerer wages war by using mysterious shadows and seeks to gain control by confusing the residents as to what's real and what isn't, the fate of the kingdom rests in the hands of Kelsey and Nicholas.

As the youngest officer in the king's army, Kelsey fights the evil sorcerer s shadows on the battlefield as she explores the kingdom searching for the key to winning the war. Nicholas, a young sorcerer in training who is mastering his craft, discovers how the right words can change the course of the future.

Explore an enchanted maze, uncover the power of words, and learn about friendship in this whimsical tale.

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The War of Words by Amy Neftzger was a hilarious, fun, and very thought provoking read. I would suggest this book to anyone from middle grades to adulthood. The fantasy story demonsrated, through words (understanding & misunderstanding) how perception can destroy or create ... using words and the understanding (common understanding) can make or break a relationship or even a kingdom / war / world. 

I am often not a big fan of fantasy with sorcerers, kings, and alot of imagnary characters, but I completely loved the characters in the book. Kelsey is a soldier fighting in the king's army against an evil sorcerer's shadows. When I first started reading I though, "Oh this is going to be just too unreal", but I was wrong. The book quickly picked up adding different characters with various talents and strategies and eventually gets to a hilarious gargoyle and a good sorcerer. Their witty back & forth will had me just about rolling in laughter. 

Most importantly is the way the story progresses taking the reader along through the understanding of words and how important words are. How words are used, misused, understood and misunderstood is shown, not just talked about. As the story progresses with misunderstandings and consequences, the reader can see for themselves how our words not only affect the present, but also the future. Perception, how we perceive what someone is saying, can also cause happiness or damage so sometimes quick reactions to misunderstood words can cause wars, destruction, hurt, etc. 

I am very thankful to have received this book free for review purposes because it is not the kind of book (fantasy) that I would have sought out to buy. I will share this book with my 10 year old and also suggest anyone of any age read it because of the truth and knowledge that is clearly presented here in a fun way without being preachy or "education talk". GREAT READ !!

Author's Bio:

Amy Neftzger is the author of fiction books for both adults and children. She has also been published in business and academic journals, as well as literary publications.

A few of her favorite things include traveling, books, movies, art, the Oxford comma, and gargoyles.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook

Interview with Amy Neftzger
What is the last great book you've read?
I recently received a copy of Mark Haddon's The Pier Falls and Other Stories. It was a collection of literary short stories and very well written. His style is a bit experimental, but he constructs the plots very well and I enjoy reading books that are put together well.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 books would you want with you?
I'd want books that have a lot to uncover, so I'd definitely want something like Infinite Jest. That's a long book with a lot of symbolism and plenty to keep my mind busy. I think I'd also like a dictionary because I'd want to read words to remember them (assuming that I'm stuck alone). Then, I'd want something like Harry Potter because it's a very optimistic book and I think I'd need something like to keep me going.

How did you do research for your book?
This book was a little different from some of the others I've written. I got the idea from watching political debates and seeing how the candidates twist words around, so a lot of my research was watching human behavior in these settings. For example, reading stories about political candidates or watching documentaries about debates. That's the beauty of fantasy: it helps us to understand truths that we see in everyday life.

How do you find time to write when you have children?
I think it's different to find time for just about anything in today's world. I specifically carve out time every day, and even if it means that I'm writing in the car while my son is at a lesson, I find a time to write. It might not be the ideal location, but I always make it a priority. I have to confess that my husband helps out around the house, and that makes a big difference to a woman in any career.

What is your favorite dessert?

Anything with chocolate. I also love ice cream, so if you can put the two together it's perfect. Well, I do love a good cake, especially with homemade icing. And cheesecake. Or a nice fruit cobbler. Maybe the correct answer is "all of them?"


Feb 4, 2016

Review: The Six by Mark Alpert

The SixThe Six by Mark Alpert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description:

To save humanity, they must give up their own.

Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam's only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.

Then an artificial intelligence program, Sigma, hacks into Adam's game. Created by Adam's computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening Adam's life-and world domination. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using technology Adam's dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat...before Sigma destroys humanity.

Book review:

I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but I enjoy a good sci-fi book once in a while. The characters sucked me, along with the battles they and their families are going through with the decision to have their dying / failing bodies replaced with a machine. The teen characters are dealing with whether the "real" person, soul, etc. is still alive in the robotic body with just their mind loaded onto the machine, or did the "real" person die with the body's last death. The teens, after batting years of disabilities, are now having to adjust to a computerized body with their mind loaded into it. Some are thrilled while others are having a harder time adjusting. Of course a villain must come into the book during their personal struggles and training ....

I read this book a while back after it was given to me for review. My 10 year old son and I were in a library a few days ago and I pointed it out to hbim. He read a few pages and loved the story as well. I think he is a little more intrigued with the idea of robotic bodies and the possibilities of science in the future.

Great book, and apparently action packed and interesting enough for a 5th grader too. We are both awaiting a book 2.

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COVER REVEAL for Single by Collette West

Single by Collette West
Contemporary Romance

Underdog Luke "Single" Singleton is yearning to make a comeback. After getting hit in the neck with a pitch—an injury that nearly cost him his life—he has one last chance to play for his hometown team, the Stockton Beavers. But his mom has Alzheimer's, and he's all she has to depend on. How can he pursue his career, much less someone special?

Personal care aide Roberta Bennett is done dating baseball players. Having had her share of heartbreak, she heads to Stockton hoping for a fresh start. But after she finds Luke’s mom outside, lost, and alone, she can’t refuse when he hires her on the spot. Unbeknownst to Luke, Roberta is all too familiar with the violent tendencies of the pitcher who hit him.

Now that they’re living under the same roof, the last thing either of them is looking for is a relationship. But it’s not long before they find themselves drawn to each other. And right when Luke is thinking about finally making a change to his single status, a secret from Roberta's past emerges with the power to tear them apart.




I try not to stare, but from behind, I can't help but admire how her tiny waist comes in over her hips. Her body's supple, strong. There's nothing delicate about her. The corner of my mouth turns up. She could probably kick my ass, and I don't know why, but I like that.

She tosses me an annoyed glance over her shoulder. "Quit it."


"Haven't you ogled my butt enough for one day?"

My cheeks burn again. So she did catch me checking her out on the field. Crap.

She lifts my arm and bends it at the elbow. It would have to be the arm, the one I couldn't move after David Nichols hit me in the neck with the ball. At first, the docs didn't know if I was partially paralyzed or not. Let's just say it was a scary four and a half days before I finally detected any sign of feeling in it.

I gaze up at her. But does she know that?


About the Author

Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.

Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at collette_west@yahoo.com.

She is the author of NIGHT GAMES, GAME CHANGER and GAME ON.

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Jan 7, 2016

REVIEW Stitch Head # 6 ~ The Monster Hunter By Guy Bass

The Monster Hunter (Stitch Head, #6)The Monster Hunter by Guy Bass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favorite little hero is at it again. Protecting his mad professor (creator) & his castle full of the professor's creatures that Stitch Head used his lotion to make kind. This is the 3rd Stitch Head book that I have read and I love all of them.

As in the other books, the story is packed with humor and action, as well as some bad guy trying to ruin the happy, strange home Stitch Head has maintained for himself and the other creatures ~ monsters turned good. As usual, someone is trying to move in on his family ~ friends and it is up to Stitch Head and his one human friend to save the castle and it's inhabitants.

Full of fun, excitement, creativity, kindness, and lots of fun. Completely love the illustrations and fun, quirky personalities of the characters. I was provided this book free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

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